A key pillar to a strong alignment between sales and marketing in any business is a Service Level Agreement (SLA). If your building product business is suffering from slow lead follow-up or disjointed marketing to sales hand-off, then an SLA is the perfect piece to introduce - to solve your misalignment dilemmas.
An SLA is an important document that builds trust and collaboration between your previously siloed sales and marketing teams. Both departments come together to work on the ideal blueprint their teams should be working from. It sets down on paper exactly what is expected from each team which helps to contribute towards more successful lead conversions.
In this article, we will discuss what a Service Level Agreement is, why it’s important, and how to implement it into your building product business.
What is an SLA?
According to research, only 43% of marketing and sales leaders have a ‘lead management’ SLA in place. Then we hear statistics like 23% of salespeople say better quality leads are the top requirement from their marketing team. I wonder if those two have any correlation?
A Service Level Agreement is a form of contract within a business that sets out what is expected by sales from their marketing team, and vice versa. A good example is how many Marketing Qualified Leads (MQL’s) the sales team needs each quarter (usually to meet their quotas).
An SLA also establishes time frames for your sales process, such as hand-offs and lead nurturing. This document forms a sort of pact that highlights the ideal scenarios both sales and marketing wish to work by, assuming both hold their end of the bargain up.
An SLA works to create a standardised process regarding lead management and how communication and collaboration ties into it between the two teams.
Why are SLA’s Important for Building Product Businesses?
A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a prospect that the marketing team has nurtured and is considered a good potential buyer. A Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) is a lead that the sales team has received and is committed to acting upon, and a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is a prospect that the sales team believes is almost ready to buy.
Are those the terms you use in your business? And if so, does everyone use them referring to the same thing?
That is the first reason why your business needs an SLA. Having key terms like the ones above drawn out and agreed upon between everyone in the lead management process is crucial. If sales and marketing are not on the same page, never mind reading the same words, then your lead nurturing and hand-off process is going to be inefficient and, most importantly, damaging your bottom line.
It’s even more critical when you start bringing software, such as CMS, CRMs, marketing automation and more, into the picture. If your email marketing campaigns are being segmented by MQLs or SQLs, and your database is not in sync with your team, then your marketing efforts will just be going down the pan.
Everything in your marketing ecosystem needs to be working together efficiently and effectively.
How to Implement an SLA into Your Business?
Firstly, you should start with creating a committee from all the departments you wish to include in the SLA, whether just sales and marketing, or customer service and operations as well. With these representatives, you then need to define what a lead is, how it is scored, and the entire lead management process. This can range from lead response time to marketing messaging for different lead scores.
Then you must create an action plan with detailed outlines of best practice, responsibility and accountability. Having plans for each team’s deliverables and who is in charge of that means the SLA can be conformed to. It’s good to draw this out from the top of your sales funnel, all the way to the bottom.
The SLA establishes how everyone is working as one team, all on one funnel, with the same aims and goals.
Finally, you should measure the success of your SLA and review its effectiveness periodically. The objective of the SLA is to drive deal progression and customer satisfaction, so make sure you aren’t just setting action plans with no real impact on the final outcome – revenue.
Following this, it also means it’s crucially important there are consequences of not meeting the intentions of the SLA.
In summary, measuring the success of your SLA will give each team insight into how their work is performing. Which leads that marketing produced converted? What made them cross that finish line? How can that be repeated? Are high quality leads being targeted by marketing? Are there any ideas sales have for new marketing content?
Measuring and optimising is the only way to make sure you are positively moving forward.
Are Your Sales and Marketing Teams Aligned?
Sales and marketing alignment is integral to a successful business, and an SLA is a key part of that, especially when it comes to best practice and accountability.
Refocussing on your business and aligning your sales and marketing departments with an SLA will contribute to a healthier sales pipeline and increased conversion rates.
Want to learn more about sales and marketing alignment for your building products or construction business? Read our Complete Guide to Sales and Marketing Alignment here.
At Insynth we deliver a predictable flow of leads, customers, and specifications for building product brands through our inbound marketing approach, proven to reach a technically demanding audience.
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